The House Hundred

Portraits of a scene's past, present and future greats

We’re teaming up with Bulldog to select 100 essential people, places and projects in Belgian house music. From producers and DJs to record labels and festivals, these are the forces driving the homegrown house scene forward, one BPM at a time.

Turnlab

Turnlab

Maks Konings, owner, DJ and producer

Describe yourself, your background and what you do today?

We sell new and used electronic instruments and studio gear. That being said, we’re mostly known for our vintage gear, which we sell worldwide. We also often provide backline for live acts around Belgium. On a more personal basis, I used to produce a lot for myself or other DJs and played the drums in bands of different styles. I also used to DJ in places such as Café d’Anvers and Café Capital, although these days Turnlab gets all my attention and I really haven’t had any time to make music in a while. That being said, I sometimes still fiddle on a tune or play at parties, preferably smaller ones.

How has where you come from shaped who you are?

I’ve always been surrounded by music ever since I was kid. My parents used to help organise festivals and my dad worked as a PA engineer. I’ve also been a drummer since I was very young, and was always fascinated by recording studio’s and PA systems, while growing up with Pop and Rock music. Later in life, I discovered electronic music more and more, got interested in producing and synthesizers, and it kind of all went from there.

“A lot of things were done here first.”

In your view, what explains Belgium’s considerable contribution to global house music? What “makes” our sound what it is?

I think a documentary such as ‘The Sound Of Belgium’ captures this beautifully. We’re such a small country with so many talents around. The ‘sound’ is more general and international now because we have influences from all around the globe, but still a lot of things were done here first.

What, to you, characterizes the country’s unique nightlife? More specifically, can you talk to us about your home base’s nightlife scene? What makes it special, who are its main players?

When I started going out, Café d’Anvers was one of my favourite spots, with some of my favourite DJs playing there, such as Smos & Baby Bee. Petrol was also one of the places that would grab my attention each time with their line-ups, and at one point I was there every weekend. I must have seen Tiefschwarz there 10 times. Nowadays clubs such as Ampere always have steady acts on the bill. Things only get better and more diverse and, truth is, we’ve been very spoiled over the last couple of years.

To you, which place in Belgium best symbolises the country’s way of partying?

I think this is different for everyone but, for me, it has to be Café Capital when it still existed.

What, in your opinion, is missing in Belgium nightlife-wise?

A bit more of a coherence maybe? Belgium is super small already and people should support and respect each other. Just like they do in Amsterdam for example.

What can politicians do to better support the homegrown scene/nightlife? For instance, what do you make of Amsterdam having a nightlife mayor?

They should indeed embrace it as part of our culture, see the positives and not only the drug-abuse and such.

In your opinion, what are the key ingredients for a good night?

Good DJs and a good sound in a nice atmosphere. I very much like smaller parties now instead of the big festival vibes.

If you had to pick three essential Belgian house music releases, what would they be and why?

Outlander – The Vamp

Just one block of energy that knocked me over the first time I heard it. I actually was lucky to get to know Marcos later on, and even worked with him in the studio once.

San Soda – You Hear Me

This got released when I was DJing a lot. It has everything I like. Simple programming, old school synths and vocals – like most San Soda tracks.

Fabrice Lig – Charleroi DC

Ok, not entirely Belgian-only, as it was produced together with KiNK. But still, everything from Fabrice was a big influence for me when making tunes. He really has his own certain style which I love.

If you could put together the line-up of your dreams, which top five Belgian acts would you book and why?

Too many people to list, but if I had to I’d go for an old school line-up:

  • Sven Van Hees, because I was listening to his music all the time 15 years ago.
  • Smos, for arguably being one of Antwerp’s best DJs if you ask me. Whether he plays a 6-hour disco set, or destroys the club with a techno one, he’s always on point.
  • Red D b2b San Soda because, in terms of Belgian house, We Play House Records is probably my favourite label.
  • Spirit Catcher. They’ve gone rather quiet lately, but they used to have a great live set and I’d play their music all the time.
  • Raoul Belmans. Very possibly the best Belgian house DJ? Swirl People was also one of my favourite things to play when I started DJing.

What’s in the pipeline for you in the coming months?

More of the same. Gear, gear, gear!

www.turnlab.be